The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have signed fourth-year offensive lineman Fred Johnson, three years after the first time they tried to bring him to town.
Johnson signed with the Buccaneers on Monday, not long after he was waived by the Cincinnati Bengals. Johnson had initially received a qualifying offer from the Bengals to become a restricted free agent but he was let go last Tuesday shortly after signing the offer.
Johnson, who played his college football at Florida, originally entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2019. He made the Steelers' active roster to start the season but was waived in October without appearing in a game. The Buccaneers were one of two teams to put in a waiver claim but the Bengals had the higher priority.
Over the next two-and-a-half seasons in Cincinnati, Johnson appeared in 23 games and made eight starts, including six at left tackle in 2020. Last season, he started the Bengals' Week 15 win in Denver, stepping in at right tackle for the injured Riley Reiff.
The 6-7, 326-pound Johnson joins a Buccaneers offensive line that will have something of a new look in 2022. Tampa Bay lost both of its starting guards from the 2021 line with the retirement of Ali Marpet and the departure of Alex Cappa in free agency. However, Pro Bowl center Ryan Jensen was re-signed and could now be flanked by Aaron Stinnie and Shaq Mason. Stinnie also re-signed before hitting free agency and Mason was acquired in a trade with the New England Patriots. Josh Wells, the Buccaneers' swing tackle for most of the past three seasons, re-signed with the team last week.